It's almost time for the annual trek to Seabrook Island for seniors from all over the South.
The 28th annual Alan Fleming Senior Open Clay Court State Championship Tournament is Oct. 5-9. Online registration runs through Sept. 29 at tennislink.usta.com (tournament number 704137611).
While it's a fun-filled week at Seabrook that attracts seniors from all corners of tennis, the tournament is heavily focused on its charitable connection with the Hospice of Charleston Foundation. The tournament is named after the late Seabrook resident Alan Fleming, once a highly ranked senior. His son, Peter Fleming, teamed with John McEnroe as one of the top doubles teams in the open era of pro tennis.
"The Fleming," as the tournament is affectionately known, attracts more than 250 players starting at the 35-and-over category. It has raised more than $221,500 for Hospice over the last decade, including $38,000 last year. The contributions have helped Hospice expand its reach by building an in-patient Hospice Center in Mount Pleasant where a room is dedicated to the Seabrook Tennis Community.
Don't forget Wando
Retired coach Becky Williamson left too much talent at Wando for the Warriors to be counted out of the High School League's Class AAAA picture. The remnants of a program that produced six straight state championship teams prior to losing to Mauldin in last year's state final wasn't a bad inheritance for new coach Tyler Davis.
Junior Catherine Martin, freshman Melanie Allen and senior Alex Klein, all three All-Lowcountry second-teamers in 2010, are leading the way for Wando. Senior Caroline Hairfield rounds out the nucleus of veteran players for Wando. "Everybody else is young and new," Davis said. One reason the Warriors' experience ends after the top four positions is that hard-hitting freshman Samantha Shuster has switched colors to Bishop England's green where she has a chance to be one of the top young players in the area.
The Warriors were off to a strong start before suffering a 5-2 loss to SCISA power Porter-Gaud last Tuesday. Both teams were participating in this weekend's Bishop England Invitational.
Davis is a former coach at Limestone and Presbyterian, who won more than 100 matches in his first four college seasons. He also is the tennis director for the Mount Pleasant Recreation Department.
Wando's streaks have been broken, but there's still quite a bit of interest in girls tennis up U.S. Highway 17-North. "We had 39 players try out. We kept 14 on the varsity and 10 on the junior varsity," Davis said, pointing out that the Warriors have cut players for the first time in a number of years. Williamson had a no-cut policy during her years as coach.
--The first big showdown in local SCISA play is Sept. 27, when Ashley Hall plays at Porter-Gaud. The teams have squared off in the last two SCISA Class AAA state title matches.
--Veteran USTA volunteer and official Bud Spencer of Mount Pleasant was selected to be inducted into the S.C. Tennis Hall of Fame in Belton, which which is run by the S.C. Tennis Patrons Foundation. Spencer serves currently on the USTA/SC board of directors and is executive vice president of USTA/Southern. Spencer is the chairman of the USTA's highly successful league tennis program.
--The Charleston Pro Tennis League moves to Pine Forest Country Club for its program next Friday at 6:30 p.m. This will be the popular four-team league's third of six regular-season match nights before holding its championship on Oct. 21 at Charleston Tennis Center. The lineup at Pine Forest will pit captain Bobby Lake's first-place O'Brion's Pub & Grille (84 points) against third-place HSI (80 points) and No. 2 Atlantic Shield (82 points) against fourth-place LCTA (77). In Friday night's matches at the I'On Club, O'Brion's beat LCTA (39-37) and Atlantic Shield downed HSI (44-37).
--Charleston's Brenda Carter is excited and practicing hard for another trip to Antalya, Turkey, to compete in the Super-Seniors World Team Championships Oct. 10-15. Carter, the top women's 65 player in the country and a former No. 1 in the world in her senior age category, will serve as the U.S. team captain in Turkey.
--Registration is under way for Charleston Tennis Center's Junior Team Tennis League, set to start play on Sept. 30. Contact city tennis manager Peggy Bohne (766-7401).
--Local junior Jared Pratt just won the BullFrog USTA Southern Section Designated event in Little Rock, Ark., in boys 12 singles and doubles. Connor Clements finished in the top eight in singles and fourth in doubles in the boys 18 BullFrog Southern Designated in Memphis.
--The word is that although touring pro Shelby Rogers has seen her world ranking drop to No. 575 after playing in last year's U.S. Open and in this spring's Family Circle Cup, she is retooling her game at the USTA training center at Boca Raton, Fla., and the USTA reportedly is expecting big things from the Daniel Island junior who will turn 19 next month.